Allied drones for rescue operations. The hi-tech aircraft developed in Pisa

30 May 2024

In rescue operations for the safety of citizens, infrastructures and territories, remotely piloted systems make it possible to maximise the efficiency and speed of interventions while minimising the risks for the personnel involved. This is the background to the AWHero, which Leonardo is developing and producing in Pisa since 2019. The rotary-wing drone and the site's activities are described in the special article in Il Tirreno.

In recent decades, extreme phenomena such as floods, storms, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts and fires have occurred more frequently and intensely in several parts of the world. It is essential to act as swiftly as possible with all available resources in order to deal with these emergencies. In this regard, remotely piloted systems are playing an increasingly central role, in addition to traditional rescue vehicles. Not only for Defence operations but also for the civil sector.

This is the purpose of AWHero, a rotary-wing drone designed and produced by Leonardo at its Pisa site, described in the article entitled “Presenting the drones that assist in rescue operations. The hi-tech aircraft developed in Pisa”. Its modular mission sensors allow it to perform a wide range of roles, replacing or complementing ground vehicles or traditional aircraft. For example, in firefighting, search and rescue operations, or when supporting natural disasters, it can fly over the affected area, take photos, make videos, and transmit crucial real-time information to rescue coordination centres.

By providing greater situational awareness, the drone supports operations and maximises overall effectiveness, optimising the intervention of field teams and reducing their exposure to risks. It can also be used in operations such as environmental monitoring, pipeline inspection, power line inspection, and critical infrastructure monitoring, as well as in defence and security missions such as border control and surveillance.

Project Engineer Sara Rustici works at the Pisa site, where the AWHero is brought to life. Her professional journey is described in the article “Sara, aerospace engineer and project engineer: I fulfilled my educational path at Leonardo”. After eleven years at Leonardo’s Cascina Costa site, near Varese, and with extensive experience in the helicopter sector, Sara moved to Tuscany to face a new challenge: “The idea of starting from scratch with a new role and new colleagues, and being able to work on innovative product technology, immediately filled me with renewed motivation and enthusiasm.” The new role has allowed her to broaden her experiences and skills, working firsthand on the development and design of the AWHero and its assembly and production activities.